The Director-General of the Ghana Health Service (GHS), Dr. Patrick Aboagye says government’s decision not to evacuate Ghanaians in China over the outbreak of coronavirus in that city was partly due to the disinterest of majority of the students there to return home.
According to him, the government through intelligence and surveys gathered that most of the students in Wuhan, China, where the outbreak started did not want to be evacuated.
“A significant number didn’t want to come home. We did a survey, those who wanted to come home were few,” he told Bernard Avle on the Point of View on Monday.
“We are talking about 162 students in Wuhan and the Ambassador [to China] was in touch with them every other day. We had information about the situation they were in and the number of those who really wanted to come back home. We also assessed whether the systems and protection that they were getting there [in China] was adequate, if it was inadequate we would have brought them,” Dr. Aboagye noted.
There have been divergent views on the evacuation of Ghanaian students living in Wuhan.
The government announced in February that it was not ready to evacuate the students despite calls by some of the students and their parents that they needed to return to Ghana due to the risk they faced and challenges in accessing basic medical and food supplies.
But the government shot down the idea.
Dr. Aboagye said it was not best practice to heed the calls by the students especially because they were getting better care in China than they would if they were evacuated to Ghana.
“It is not the best practice as far as public health is concerned and WHO has even advised against such evacuations…Our position was that, because they were getting good care and support, we felt that there was no point in bringing them but we continue to watch the situation and as you can see the numbers are coming down in China,” he said.
He added that, “even if you get the disease, you are probably better off in China because they have experience managing that kind of condition.”
Ghanaian authorities not aware of Wuhan students’ plights
A former National Organizer of Ghanaian students in China, Daniel Nii Lartey, in an interview on Eyewitness News earlier in February said the Ministry of Health’s decision not to evacuate students in Wuhan may be from a position of ignorance of their true state of desperation and challenges there.
According to him, the donation of money to the students there does not mean much to the students as most grocery stores are locked up and the students are unable to access various other services.
He insisted that evacuating the students will be the best thing to do to safeguard their health and ensure that they are psychologically sound to pursue their studies.
Evacuations from Wuhan
More than 14 countries have evacuated their citizens from Wuhan over the outbreak, adhering to strict World Health Organization protocols for evacuation including holding the evacuees in quarantine for two weeks before reintegrating them into society.
Iran, Vietnam, Australia and New Zealand, South Korea, India, Brazil among others have evacuated their citizens.
South Africa recent agreed to evacuate its students although many argue it is too late to do so now.